MA in Cultural Studies alumni work in a variety arts, cultural, and educational settings. Read what some of our graduates have to say about their experience in the program and the ways in which it influences their current endeavors.
Debbie Brown, '11
PhD Student, Leadership Studies, Gonzaga University
In 2007 Debbie Brown was a domestic violence survivor and was living out of her car. But even then, she was determined to realize her dream of completing her undergraduate education and going to graduate school. At the time, her daughter was attending Cascadia Community College, which is co-located with the UW Bothell campus. She urged Debbie to go with her and they spent the next year taking classes together. The following year Debbie transferred to UW Bothell and found herself in a thriving interdisciplinary setting. In 2009 she graduated with a BA in Culture, Literature, and the Arts and was the Chancellor’s Medalist. Encouraged by Professor JoLynn Edwards, Debbie applied to the Cultural Studies program, with the ultimate goal of earning a PhD.
Debbie chose the Cultural Studies program for its exposure to multiple disciplines, including critical theory, feminist theory, critical race theory, and human and cultural geography, as well as for allowing her to work in her area of scholarly interest, African Studies. She is now working on her PhD in Leadership Studies with an Emphasis in African Studies at Gonzaga University. In this program she continues to examine social issues in the light of cultural studies theory. Recently, Debbie won a Fulbright Study/Research Grant for the 2014-15 school year and will work in Zambia to document and archive the cultural history of the Chewa people. Debbie hopes to use cultural studies theory to examine the problems of poverty and hunger in Zambia and throughout Africa, as well as to problematize and critique current structures of foreign aid. Her career aspiration is to teach, research, and write in a university setting.
Mona Halcomb, '11
Education Director, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Mona Halcomb was planning for a career in politics. To this end, she sought an advanced degree in policy or law and was moving in that direction when life took an unexpected turn. A member of her family became ill with cancer, and circumstances prevented her from taking the LSAT. This pause led Mona to reevaluate her educational aims, and as she surveyed the political arena, she concluded it was full of lawyers and policymakers - and still headed in a downward spiral. Knowing the basic premise of democracy is to represent the people, Mona decided that she needed a better understanding of the diverse perspectives in her community.
Mona chose the MA in Cultural Studies program for its attention to power, privilege, and the historical aspects of culture, all critical factors to understanding people and politics. Cultural Studies allowed Mona to enhance her communication and collaboration abilities, skills she uses every day. Since graduating, Mona has served as Dean of Student Services for Northwest Indian College and more recently as Education Director with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation where she led multi-generational programs. Currently, Mona serves as Administrator for the Comparative History of Ideas Program (CHID) at the University of Washington. Her greatest passion is encouraging people to pursue their education and sharing her positive experiences at UW.
Jeremy Richards, '10
Learning and Development Manager
An accomplished radio producer, writer, and actor rooted in the Seattle’s arts community, Jeremy Richards desired a graduate education that would stretch the bounds of his creativity while broadening his professional options. Seeking a cross-disciplined approach integrating various fields of cultural study, Jeremy chose the MA in Cultural Studies as a venue for his intellectual pursuits. While in the program, he focused on the writings and music of Friedrich Nietzsche, the cultural landscape of belief, and the praxis of creative collaboration, leading to his capstone, "Nietzsche! The Musical."
After 15 years in radio, Jeremy shifted his career to the sector of information technology. At Microsoft, he began as a teambuilding consultant using the theory and techniques of improvisation. His role expanded into project management, and Jeremy viewed his non-traditional background and Cultural Studies training as an asset. It provided him with a framework for assessing the patterns, rituals, values, and pedagogies which are pervasive within his organization’s culture, allowing him to work in new and inventive directions.
Update: Jeremy is now a Master Facilitator at Fierce, Inc, a global leadership development company that works with organizations to improve results through more effective conversations.
Joshua Heim, '10
Arts Administrator, City of Redmond
Throughout his career Joshua Heim grappled with the concept of “praxis,” or how to turn theoretically rich ideas into something useful to the community. Continually encountering this tension in his work, Joshua chose the Cultural Studies program as a venue for developing a deep theoretical orientation, one that would guide his actions and enable him to more powerfully affect social change.
While in the Cultural Studies program, Joshua served Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in dual capacities as Exhibits Developer, coordinating community-based exhibits representing the history, art and culture of Asian Pacific Americans, and Manager of YouthCAN, a national award winning arts-based youth leadership program. Wing Luke provided Joshua with a space for integrating his academic learning and employing various models of civic engagement.
In his current role as Arts Administrator for City of Redmond, Joshua manages arts and cultural programming for the city and leads the charge for translating these spheres into sites that are relevant and accessible to the community. Using the skills and understandings Joshua gained through the Cultural Studies program, he hopes to create a new paradigm for public support of the arts and culture.
Ann Hemmons Ferreira, '10
Raised in Brazil, Ann Hemmons Ferreira saw the visible and invisible mechanisms of power, privilege, and influence that characterized the dominant–subordinated system and the overuse/misuse of privilege. Greatly affected by the inequities around her, Ann desired an advanced education that would deepen her understanding of these dynamics in the hopes of someday becoming an educator. With the ultimate goal of teaching at a university, Ann chose the MA in Cultural Studies program to expand her knowledge of cultural theory and research practices. During her course of study, Ann developed a fascination with video game culture, a space where different - often disenfranchised - people could socialize, deconstruct ideas, and create new worlds. This interest drew Ann to the arena of game localization, a role that entails modifying new software and hardware to make it accessible, usable, and culturally suitable for audiences around the world. In tandem with her linguistic and cultural knowledge of Latin America, Ann’s ability to identify, dissect and translate various forms of culture has given her a competitive edge in this growing field.
Update: Ann is now working as a Project Manager at Microsoft providing localization and quality control expertise.
Randi Courtmanch Evans, '10
Performing Arts Specialist
Coming from a traditional performing arts background, Randi Courtmanch wanted to expand her practice through deeper engagement with the social and cultural dimensions of her work. Randi had been involved with different communities and populations, and she was looking for a base from which she could explore and ground her artistic and research interests more fully. Randi chose the MA in Cultural Studies program for its interdisciplinary approach and emphasis on collaboration across diverse sectors. During her studies, she interned for Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas (CD Forum), a local nonprofit organization which presents and produces African American cultural programs that encourage thought and debate. This experience provided a setting for Randi to practice her theoretical learning while further honing her skills and knowledge in arts administration. Following graduation, Randi accepted an administrative role at CD Forum and taught for four years at UW Bothell in the areas of art, performance, and student development. She is currently a doctoral student in Performance Studies at University of California Berkeley.